an outreach letter

An example of the outreach efforts of Pacing the Planet, this is a letter we wrote today to a group in Chicago:

Hello [climate change event organizer],
Our names are Gavain U'Prichard and Dana McGuire. We are co-directors of the Pacing the

Planet project. Thank you for speaking at length with David last night about your exciting climate event upcoming in February. We read through the conversation you had, and we would like to clarify what our position is, so that your coalition of groups can decide if they would like to hear more from us in the near future.

Although our presentation is based on the work of several eminent scientists, the conclusions are decidedly not the communication that scientists have offered so far to the popular press, nor to politicians. We anticipate that some or all of the information we have to share will be included in the 2014 IPCC report -- however, it will be too late by then to act on some critical pieces of it.

We therefore consider ourselves emissaries of the politically inexpedient scientific truth of what is really happening currently with the climate, the story that is going unrepresented completely, even by worthy allies and advocates like Bill McKibben.

Here is a list of places in our presentation where we differ starkly with Bill's information offered in the Do The Math tour. We believe that you are not likely to find this material represented least, we haven't found it entering into the public conversation.

1) The planet is not on a 2-degree C emissions pathway, nor even close to it. We're on a 6-12 degree pathway within the century. We are off the chart of even the most unrestrained "business as usual" scenario formulated by the IPCC in 1999-2001. Our current trajectory places our very own generations squarely in the path of "beyond dangerous" warming.

2) The window for achieving a leveling off of world temperature increase at 2-degrees C has probably already closed. Peer reviewed work by Professors Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows of the University of Manchester and the Tyndall Centre in 2008 (and updated in 2011 and this year) indicates that under the best circumstances, countries like the U.S. have to significantly turn the corner on CO2 and methane emissions by 2015, and reduce emissions by 6-8% per year thereafter, not 18% by 2020, as the Obama administration has regulated. When continuing deforestation is factored in (as well as data that significant methane clathrate destabilization began in 2007, etc.), the U.S. has no share left in the remaining carbon budget. Leading UK climatologist Kevin Anderson concludes that we simply don't have time to scale up wind and solar power, or nuclear power, in order to meet the timeline for sticking a landing at a 2-degree maximum rise with 50% probability. He calls for a managed economic downturn, stating firmly that it is not reasonable to keep using carbon-dioxide emitting energy sources until such a time that the larger green power grid can be depended upon to fuel our current lifestyle of flagrant consumption. That strategy, currently our default, will be our medium-term undoing. Our death.

3) We agree with Bill McKibben and others, recognizing that political plans that intend to regulate a slow reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through 2050 with the intent of leveling off at a 2-degree C rise in planet temperature (plans that neglect to reference the cumulative carbon budget) are ineffectual and therefore meaningless.

4) We agree with Professors James Hansen, Naomi Oreskes, and Erik Conway that carbon cap-and-trade schemes are inherently unable combating global warming. We understand why they cannot work and why they have historically failed to curtail acid rain to the necessary degree. We call for a carbon fee and dividend, though at a significantly increased rate than is currently proposed in the House of Representatives legislation, and even more than has been called for by Hansen. The newest incoming data from climate researchers requires steeper measures taken.

5) Our presentation discusses the role of methane in greenhouse warming: specifically, while methane is understood to have 25 times the climate forcing power of CO2 on the 100-year timescale, it is known to have 72 times the climate forcing power of CO2 on the 20-year timescale, which is the time-frame in which most climatologists believe we will reach the "point of no return," when the climate system irrevocably moves toward a new stable state, much warmer climate, regular extreme weather events, and the most rapid mass extinction in the history of our planet. Therefore, we advocate for aggressively regulating methane emissions (ie. livestock) as well as fossil fuels emissions. This work is backed up with research by Professor Barry Brooks of University of Adelaide, Australia, among others.

6) Perhaps most importantly, we present information that, due to the approximate thirty year lag time in the response of the climate warming to increased climate forcing (the release of carbon dioxide emissions, in this case), and due to the increasing inauguration of new feedback loops (augmenting the speed as well as the intensity of the warming), the safest estimate for policy purposes is that as the planet continues on a "beyond business-as-usual" pathway for 4 to 8 more years, we will lock ourselves into a 4-degree C rise in planet temperature by 2050-2060, yielding "beyond dustbowl" conditions in much of the interior U.S., raising the threat of catastrophic flooding more than 100-fold, consigning the Amazon rainforest to become savannah and/or desert, and ultimately creating an ice-free planet. Additionally, the current 200-species-a-day extinction rate would escalate to a probable 50% species loss worldwide. (At a 6-12 degree rise in temperature, the extinction level goes up to 95%, historically.)

Last year, the International Energy Agency produced a major report which found that [unless significant room is created in the carbon budget, by 2017] existing fossil fuel infrastructure will certainly carry the planet to a 2-degree rise. (This analysis did not factor in the Keystone XL pipeline.) After that point, any new oil wells dug, coal mines opened, or coal plants brought online would definitively take us past 2 degrees. For these reasons, we advocate that the time is now for a 3-pronged approach of large scale political leverage to support the imposition of a carbon fee, to end fossil fuel subsidies, to prohibit the Keystone Pipeline, and implement a carbon rationing system; secondly, of major civil disobedience to effectively shut down the demand cycle for fossil fuels (sit-ins, refuse to burn carbon days, refuse to go to work days, re-stickering merchandise with "actual cost" price stickers, blocking fuel stations etc.), and, thirdly, clandestine sabotage of fossil fuel industry infrastructure to buy time for legislation and for the development of the alternative energy distributed grid.

7.) We present on means of carbon mitigation and sequestration that have not received as much attention as stratospheric geoengineering, but may be as effective or more effective, such as the large scale production of biochar as an endstage process in the agricultural cycle. We offer data that suggest biochar formation from corn stalks and soy remains in the U.S. alone could yield a 10-20% reduction in atmospheric carbon concentration. We draw from the work of Dr. Albert Bates, author of The Biochar Solution: Carbon Farming and Climate Change (2010).

8) Because our audiences have always consistently wanted to know more about us and our project, we usually also spend at least a few minutes telling our story...for some people, this is the most compelling inspiration which we can offer.

This has been our attempt at a summary of the content of a presentation we would offer currently, which we gather would help inform the goals and strategy of your organizing efforts.
It is our understanding that, at best, we are at the very fulcrum point of a planetary event that will play out for 100-400 thousand years (and perhaps as much as a million years) according to Professor Curt Stager. Therefore, we feel it is imperative that we share this information as widely as possible, so that our society can rise to meet the challenge of the climate emergency, or have as much time as possible to prepare, if we fail to avoid the "point of no return." If your coalition feels that input from Pacing the Planet would be helpful in forming the parameters of your event, or even presenting at your event, please let us know. At this time, our headquarters resides in rural northeast Missouri (6 hours from Chicago), but we stand by, ready to plan train or vegetable-oil-fueled transport to your area with some degree of advance notice. Our primary purpose in existing is to communicate this information to all who are ready to assimilate it.

Gavain U'Prichard and Dana McGuire

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